The LEC Spring 2019 Playoffs have been different for Fnatic, to say the least. Most of the time, they’re considered the heavy favourites. After all, they have a laundry list of accomplishments in League of Legends alone. This includes the most championships in European League of Legends history and the fact that they are the only Western organization to have ever achieved a World Championship. Not only that, but they’re also the only Western squad to have made it to the Finals in the current Worlds format.
Fnatic are historically good, is what we’re saying here.
Unfortunately, following their stellar 2018 season, Fnatic kicked off their 2019 season on the wrong foot. Whether it was the level of the competition in the region increasing, or their play diminishing, or a combination of both, Fnatic appeared vulnerable for the first time in a while. They were even in danger of missing out on the LEC Spring 2019 Playoffs. However, a strong second half allowed them to vault past the other teams, and now, they’re in contention to defend their title.
Unlike other years, however, Fnatic aren’t the heavy favourites to win the LEC Spring 2019 Playoffs. Despite their improved play over the past few months, they’re the underdogs as far as anyone’s concerned.
Both Origen and G2 Esports have had much better seasons compared to Fnatic. This is especially true for the latter, who wouldn’t lose games until five weeks into the season, and have generally looked like the best League of Legends team in Europe.
Still, we’re not ready to give up on Fnatic just yet.
Below, we take a look at Fnatic’s path to the finals in Rotterdam, and how they could potentially upset the two titans in Origen and G2 Esports two days in a row to defend their title.
How Fnatic Turned their Season Around
Fnatic was the best team of the second round robin of the regular season. Their strengths were in their carefully crafted level 1 plays like delayed invades, and then expanding the advantage secured from such plays. Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen has been pathing intelligently, pulling off unorthodox and usually unexpected ganks even on champions like Karthus, and has been able to net advantages for his laners.
How Fnatic accomplished this was pretty simple – they focused on lane priority.
They prioritized Lucian a lot for Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, and then turret dives are executed around the bottom lane. Tim “Nemesis” Lipovsek has been put on a high-priority mid laner like Lissandra. This allows him to roam easily to the side lanes and initiate for the team in team fights. They also put Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov on an engage-oriented support that could influence not just matchups in the bottom lane, but also those in the solo lanes.
The standout player, however, is Gabriel “Bwipo” Rau. Fnatic blind picks champinos for Bwipo. His game often takes a backseat, and yet, he’s been able to net advantages on his own. His ability to absorb pressure and play well in spite of it has been nothing short of amazing for Fnatic.
If you were to sum Fnatic’s play up, they were the team that showed how to play standard League of Legends perfectly.
Fnatic’s Play in the LEC Spring 2019 Playoffs
In the LEC Spring 2019 Playoffs, Fnatic have played rather differently. Instead of playing for the early game, they seem to have doubled down on scaling. They may still leave Bwipo to fend off on his own, but you simply can’t understate the emergence of Gangplank. Not to mention, Karthus has become the squad’s go-to jungle pick for Broxah. Meanwhile, they’ve picked Kayle for Nemesis quote often. Finally, Rekkles haven’t played Lucian in the playoffs so far; the team is putting him on Vayne, Sivir, and Kai’sa.
It’s also quite notable that Fnatic haven’t been picking Kalista up much.
All of this could possibly mean a lot of different teams: first is that Fnatic could be believing that they could be able to take the game to a later stage where they would surely win, or second, that they may read the meta as a more late game oriented one. Lane priority is, of course, still important, and they do not seem to concede the early laning phase (as we remember from their Kassadin and Zac games), but against teams that are scrappy in the early game, this might end up being punished.
A third reason for Fnatic picking scaling is the desire to hide some strategies from future opponents: they could be previously trusting their capacity to make it deep in the post season, and they could be saving more consistent compositions and strategies in this last stretch against Origen and/or G2 Esports.
If this were true, Fnatic took a gamble that they should cash in on real soon at the LEC Spring 2019 Playoffs.
How Fnatic Can Beat Origen
Origen’s form is quite an enigma: after taking a three-week break, they had their juggernaut match against G2 Esports. And while they had been competitive in the early game, even accruing considerable leads, their lack of capability to adapt fast enough to what the enemy team was doing was quite apparent.
Their drafting was also another problem. It seemed like the team knew what they wanted to do, but they just weren’t comfortable doing it. As a result, the team seemed a little lost on the map. It was like they were so focused on doing things right that they forgot about what their opponents were doing. Even if they had leads early on in the game, they failed to make the necessary map rotations to capitalize on those leads. Worse still was when they put a lot of resources taking meager fights.
Up against Fnatic, that’s just not going to fly.
We already saw Fnatic man-handle Origen before, and from what we’ve seen so far, Fnatic have shown that they can play both methodical and chaotic. They’re not a team that tilts easily. This is bad news for Origen.
Given Rekkles’ and Hylissang’s aggression in the laning phase, their counterparts over at Origen could be left at a serious disadvantage early in the game, and, if the game goes late, Rekkles has proven time and time again that there are only a few carries in the world who can consistently carry his team to a victory.
Can Fnatic Beat G2 Esports?
In the event that Fnatic is able to defeat Origen, they will have to face G2 Esports the following day. This may be a lot to prepare for, since G2 Esports seemed to be invincible in their playoff series against Origen. They won from a considerable deficit in the first game, and they showed rather robust early games in the next two games. Their willingness to take any fight anywhere usually works for their benefit as they are immensely mechanically talented across all roles. In addition to this, their creative play making is also something to behold as they seem to leave opponents astounded with what they are doing across the map. Not to mention, they thrive off of chaos.
Nevertheless, one should remember G2 Esports’ draft pattern: heavy lane priority in all lanes, with an invading jungler. They have honed their 1-3-1 style of composition from the past season, but that does not mean that they could no longer team fight. The raw mechanical skill from this squad is high, and if given champions that would actualize their potential, they could perform superbly.
The easiest path for Fnatic then is to take priority away from G2. They should try to take away some flex picks and put a lot of their priority in the bottom lane. Fnatic should also avoid giving G2 chances to make their way back into the game. They may have been successful in doing it in the past, but Fnatic simply can’t rely on winning games via base races consistently.
Finally, if Fnatic can nullify their former player, Rasmus “Caps” Winther, then defending their title becomes a lot easier.
Because of the standards they have set for themselves, every season is title or bust for Fnatic. That’s just how it is. Even though they’ve already done well to get to this point given how badly the started the season, it’s still a step down from where they were a year ago.
Ultimately, Fnatic’s final goal should still be becoming a world championship contender. Losing here will still give them a decent amount of championship points, putting them on the right path so long as they keep on improving. But, to be the world’s best, Fnatic need to be the best in their region first, and a successful title defense at the LEC Spring 2019 Playoffs should give them a lot of confidence heading into the second half of the 2019 season.
How do you think the LEC Spring 2019 Playoffs will turn out? Do you think Fnatic have what it takes to win it all? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.